Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

Portland’s first green bike box is now complete

Posted by on March 17th, 2008 at 12:59 pm

New Bike Box SE Hawth - 7th-6.jpg

PDOT crews lay down the bike symbol.
(Photos © J. Maus)

This morning, in well-timed nod to St. Patrick’s Day, City of Portland crews finished the installation of the green bike box and bike lane at SE Hawthorne and 7th. They also installed new permanent signs adjacent to the intersection warning motorists to yield to bikes in the green lane and reminding them of “No Turn on Red”.

The box is large, highly visible and offers quite a welcome mat for cyclists. The box is 14 feet deep and the green stretches across an entire standard-width lane and the adjacent bike lane.

Before laying down sheets of the green, pre-formed thermoplastic material (I’ve snatched a piece as a souvenir), crew members rolled a special adhesive onto the ground. Gary Bantin was on hand to assist with the application. Bantin works with Flint Trading, Inc., makers of PreMark, the green material used by the city in the new colored lanes and bike boxes. He says the lanes and bike box will see such a high volume of heavy and turning car traffic that he wanted to make sure the material was durable.

New Bike Box SE Hawth - 7th-12.jpg

It works so far.
New Bike Box SE Hawth - 7th-5.jpg

All done and ready for service.

“This material,” he said, “lasts 6-8 times longer than paint. I expect it to last at least five years.”

Once the pieces of thermoplastic were in place, they were burned onto the roadway with torches.

Along with the new green lane and bike box, new signs were also installed. One warns cars to yield to bikes in the green lane and another says, “No Turn on Red – Except Bicycles.”

City of Portland bicycle coordinator Roger Geller showed up to see how things were going. After an interview with KATU-TV, Geller threw a leg over his bike and was officially the first person to give the new bike box its first real-life test.

Kirstin Byer, traffic projects supervisor for the City of Portland (also of Martinis in the Bike Lane fame), was also on hand. She brought out three Bureau of Maintenance crews for this first installation, “just so they all could see how it’s done.”

Byer says she’ll wait for better weather before crews get started on the other 14 or so (the number keeps changing) intersections that are slated for similar improvements.

New Bike Box SE Hawth - 7th-17.jpg

I stuck around for a while after everyone had left. Cars stopped prior to the new bike box on every one of the five or so red lights I observed. I did however, see one car turn right on red. Unfortunately the “No Right on Red” sign is not highly visible (it’s across the street, high and to the right of the roadway). Hopefully the combination of educational outreach by PDOT and the Police Bureau (more on that in my next post) will remind folks of the law.

I plan to be out there again later this afternoon when hundreds of bike commuters give the new bike box it’s first big test.

For more images, check out my Portland’s First Bike Box photo gallery.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Thank you — Jonathan

  • Elliot March 17, 2008 at 1:12 pm

    How wonderfully fitting for St. Patrick\’s Day!

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  • Mike March 17, 2008 at 1:44 pm

    Anyone know if this thermoplastic is more or less slippery (when wet) than paint?

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  • Max March 17, 2008 at 1:51 pm

    I have no clue if its more or less slippery, but for my own sake I hope its less slippery.

    I think this thing is wonderful but that much \”paint\” looking stuff on the ground freaks me out. God knows how many times I\’ve lost traction on wet road paint.

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  • Scott Mizée March 17, 2008 at 1:53 pm

    I\’m just speculating here, but I would feel fairly comfortable saying it is less slippery than paint. It is textured.

    Guess I\’m going to have to alter my commute home this afternoon to take in the St. Patrick\’s Day Festivities at 7th & Hawthorne!

    happy st patricks day from

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) March 17, 2008 at 1:56 pm

    the material is significantly less slick than paint. It is embedded with tiny little crystals like sand paper.

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  • jeff March 17, 2008 at 2:09 pm

    If it is the same as the blue bike lane markings, I\’d go even further and say it is less slick than even pavement when wet.

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  • toddistic March 17, 2008 at 2:26 pm

    definately time to alter thee ol commute to ride through this intersection!

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  • zilfondel March 17, 2008 at 4:58 pm

    Wow – noone should complain that they don\’t understand it!

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  • Jeff C March 17, 2008 at 6:21 pm

    Go Portland!!! All that green makes me envious!

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  • Lazlo March 17, 2008 at 8:21 pm

    I wasn\’t on the bike today, I was driving. So I thought I\’d take a spin throught that intersection to see it from a car\’s perspective. As I pulled up to the intersection, there\’s no missing the green bike box and lane, or the two motorcycle cops across the street. There\’s a cyclist in the bike lane, and another in the box. It looks like someone might think they could easily fit between the bike lane and the curb for a right turn. The cyclist in the bike box is periodically signaling a left turn; there are two lanes of traffic to her left. The light turns green, the cyclist goes forward; so does the van beside her. With the van 4-5 feet behind her, the cyclist turns left across 2 lanes of traffic, almost getting hit. The cyclist pulls over on 7th, to be met by one of the cops. I\’m guessing that she thought the bike box gave her special immunity. I fear that, at least initially, people (both drivers and cyclists) will fail to understand how these things are supposed to work. At this point, I don\’t see how this is any safer. If it\’s supposed to prevent right hooks, I worry more about those when traffic is moving, which would not be addressed by a bike box.

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  • Scott Mizée March 18, 2008 at 4:00 am

    OK… so it\’s rather poor videography… but here\’s my attempt to capture the \’bike box\’ while riding a \’box bike.\’


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  • KG March 18, 2008 at 7:41 am

    Why is the bike box safer?
    I don t get it.

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  • Confused March 18, 2008 at 8:26 am

    In comment number 9, Laslo provides an eyewitness account of a cyclist who was almost struck because of confusion about how a cyclist is supposed to use a bike box. I\’ve asked on this forum repeatedly for guidance on how a cyclist is expected to use the portion of the bike box immediately in front of the motorist. Still no answers.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) March 18, 2008 at 8:36 am

    \”I\’ve asked on this forum repeatedly for guidance on how a cyclist is expected to use the portion of the bike box immediately in front of the motorist. Still no answers.\”

    First, I\’m not an expert…

    But from what I\’ve heard from experts here is some info:

    In green light conditions just do what you would normally do.

    To make a left turn, you should also do as you would normally do… which is to merge over into the left lane prior to the turn, signal your intentions, and then make the turn. The bike box would play no role in facilitating a bike left turn.

    In red light conditions, the box is there to simply give bikes a space in front of the line to be more visible. At a red light, just move into the box if you\’d like…especially if there is already a bike stopped at the intersection in the bike lane.

    Once the light turns green, roll ahead and move over into the bike lane.

    \”Why is a bike box safer?\”

    The main thing is visibility.

    The bike box (and green markings) allows for bikes to take a much more prominent position on the roadway.

    And as for the eyewitness account above… the cyclist made a regrettable mistake.

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  • Jim O'Horo March 18, 2008 at 9:46 am

    KGW did a segment on this bike box in yesterday evening\’s news. Their video showed the green to be much brighter than other pictures I\’ve seen so far. If it is, that\’s great.

    \”… the cyclist made a regrettable mistake.\” It could easily have been a fatal mistake. Jonathan, you\’re absolutely correct that in this case (2 motorized traffic lanes with a bike lane to the right) the left-turning cyclist needs to start far ahead of the intersection and maneuver across 2 lanes to get to the CENTER of the left lane. This is a case where it\’s best to take the lane so that as the cyclist turns left, the driver behind cannot attempt to pass on the left to go straight ahead. If the cyclist doesn\’t have enough sspace to maneuver across the 2 motorized lanes in time to get to the center of the left lane before the intersection, it\’s better to make a 2-corner turn.

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  • kd March 18, 2008 at 9:46 am

    Next up: Green boxes for pedestrians who are threatened by unsafe bikes on the Esplanade!

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  • KG March 18, 2008 at 9:57 am

    The best way to get on left lane safely on Hawthorn from bridge going east is to draft behind cars.

    Are we really going to sit in the box in front of traffic to get on the left lane as light turns green?
    I don\’t think so!

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  • Lazlo March 18, 2008 at 10:51 am

    It certainly was a regrettable mistake. What concerns me is that people may get a false sense of security from the bike box. I definitely like the increased visibility, I just hope no one is injured or killed during the learning curve.

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  • pawwl April 1, 2008 at 9:19 am

    Has more time been added to the yellow light to allow for stopping before the 14 foot bike box? At 25 mph a car travels 14 feet in .38 seconds. Therefore .38 seconds should have been added to the yellow light. If more time has not been added and a car hits a bicyclist in a green box because the car could not stop in time, could the city be sued? Tickets should not be issued until time is added to the yellow light.

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  • Bikebillboards dot blogspot dot com April 5, 2008 at 5:59 pm

    How to avoid the right-hook at the exit ramp of a high-speed expressway, without really DYING or painting stupid boxes: 1) Anticipate the exit ramp; 2) Get as close to the right of the solid white line of the shoulder as possible; 3) Stick out left arm to reduce speed of other vehicles at the rear; 4) Check for traffic gap in rear view mirror; 5) Cross exit ramp between deaccelerating vehicles.

    Works great EVERY time, EVERY trip. If I\’m less than 100% right, I would not be writing this. If you can do this at FULL throttle, 53X12, 90-120rpm, while blowing your nose, your gap-timing is ON.

    The most scariest part? I\’ve done it so many times, half my brain is on auto-pilot and the other half is working on new punchlines for my night job as stand-up comic. Get complacent. Get DEAD.

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  • Duncan April 6, 2008 at 9:23 am

    your comment has nothing to do with the bike boxes in Portland- they are not on freeways they are at intersections. Once again your complete lack of understanding of the area is showing.

    Isn\’t there some bike web place closer to home you can troll?

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  • Peter September 26, 2008 at 4:13 pm

    Where is the legal authority for the “bike box”? As a cycling advocate, I am constantly having to educate cyclists on the law of the road: bicyclists must stay as far to the right as practicable. Cyclists do not, in fact, have a right to the whole road, “just like cars”. On the other hand, they must obey all traffic signals (lights, stop signs), which MANY if not most fail to do. If cyclists must stay as far right as is “practicable”, how does a green box which fills the entire width of the lane encourage this? And do cyclists know what to do once the light turns green, if they are in the middle of the lane? Again, does anybody know the code section which was enacted to allow for bike boxes, and does Portland have the authority to contradict ODOT regulations?

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    • Matt March 18, 2013 at 4:48 am

      You sure don’t sound like a cycling advocate.

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